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Serenity In The News

Charlotte Cox-Turner volunteers at Serenity Equine Rescue near Maple Valley on May 10. She has found healing by doing this work after her son Neil was killed in a reckless accident in Afghanistan in 2012. 
Peter Haley phaley@thenewstribune.com

Anguished over her oldest son’s death in Afghanistan in 2012, Charlotte Cox-Turner drove by his grave week after week on her way to the ranch where she could help herself heal.

Her heart hurt when she passed Pfc. Neil Turner at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

She kept going, knowing the hours she spent — shovel in hand at a Maple Valley farm, cleaning stalls and feeding horses — would get her through the day.

“I noticed every time I came home after working, I’d feel a little better,” she said. “It was like burning off grief. I was working so hard.”

One morning, she felt herself emerging from the depression that hung over her long after Neil’s death. With tears still pouring, she leaned into a horse so big the ground seemed to shake when he walked.

He let her cry on him. Comforted by her silent friend, she was ready to look forward to her own life again.

“I never thought I would come back,” Charlotte said. “I thought that my heart was shut and irreparably closed, and I thought it wouldn’t heal up. (The horses) taught me my heart still works. Because of their tenderness, it taught me I still have a heart.”

Four years after Neil Turner’s death in a maddeningly reckless accident, his parents and three younger brothers are leaving a dark time behind them as they learn to live without a young man from East Tacoma who once seemed invincible.

Charlotte, 55, found peace with horses and by caring for soldiers who knew her son.Her husband, Leland, 64, held his family together in moments when he feared sadness would break them apart.

Brother Maxwell, 23, lost a year to his own depression, but found strength in work, music and friends.

Jordan, 19, followed his dad’s lead and tried to look strong for the family. He’s in college and pursuing big dreams.

Youngest brother Tucker, 15, doesn’t like to talk much about Neil. But even he recently wrote an essay about his brother that moved a teacher to tears.


Finding serenity

One of Charlotte’s sisters in Minnesota suggested she find time to volunteer with horses, hoping the physical activity would provide a kind of therapy.

Charlotte had not been around horses much in years, but liked the idea.

She knew she found the right place when she visited Serenity Equine Rescue in Maple Valley. It’s a nonprofit ranch Patrica Clark runs to nurse abandoned and neglected horses back to health.

Charlotte took to the horses and wanted to care for them.


Charlotte Cox-Turner

Dante, a heavy-footed black Friesian, stood out to her. Someone in California had tried to adopt him before it was safe to separate him from his mother. Dante got sick and wound up at Serenity when the buyer decided to go with another horse.

Charlotte liked his history. They became friends.

“Dante is the first horse I connected with,” she said. “He’s heard a lot of my grief.”

Other volunteers noticed Charlotte showed up three or four times a week, but mostly did not want to talk to them. Instead, she silently minded the horses.

 Pfc. Neil Turner in Afghanistan. He was killed in a reckless accident in Afghanistan in 2012.Turner family Courtesy

Today, she’s a favorite friend to the farm and to her fellow volunteers.

“You were pretty closed off then, and you’re a whole different person now,” Clark told her on a visit this month.

Charlotte always felt an almost psychic connection with Neil. She worried tremendously when he joined the Army. She had a bad feeling, like a premonition.  In her nightmares after his death, she felt as if she was in Neil’s place when the rocket fired.
“As a parent, when it happens to your child, it happens to you. It was hard not to be there in his last moments,” she said.
Those dark dreams faded as she spent more time on the farm. Surprisingly, she began to feel Neil’s presence with her as she grew stronger.

“In that first couple of years, I felt extremely distant,” she said. “There was this impassible gulf with my son.” “Now, I actually feel closer to Neil, and I thought, ‘How could that be?’

“I feel like he’s telling me, ‘Mom, the grief was so bad you couldn’t feel anything. I was always there.’ 

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646@TNTMilitary

 Serenity in Equine Wellness Magazine
Serenity will be featured in Equine Wellness Magazine in September.   Equine Wellness magazine is full of informative articles on the latest health issues and remedies.  We subscribe to Equine Wellness and read it cover to cover each month.  It is a must read for every horse owner!

 Click on Equine Wellness and read the story of our wonderful horse Spirit.


 KOMO Problem Solvers Visits Serenity

Komo Problem Solver Jamie Lynn came to Serenity the end of December to help us with our barn issues.  King County RDDES has given us a date of February 11, 2014 to apply for a permit along with plans for anchoring our barn.  For those of you who have gone through the permitting process with the County, you know this can be a daunting task!  Moreover, the fees can be enormous.  Please click on the link below to see the story.

Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation
Ranked #161 of 292 for Best Favorite Local Charity
28818 SE 216th Way Maple Valley WA

  • Phone Number:
    (206) 484-7998
  • Website:
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From the owner:
SERR is a rescue sanctuary program dedicated to animals, specializing in equine rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. We are located in Maple Valley, Washington, in King County.

When Patricia Clark, founder of Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation moved to Maple Valley in 2006 she decided to help horses who needed a second chance and to give her rescue a name- she chose Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation because of the serene environment at her property, and the methods she uses with the horses.
The lucky rescues at Serenity are provided with the best medical care and lots of attention. The turnaround we see in these horses is more than just looks- they become affectionate, outgoing equine companions. The rehabilitation is physical and emotional for a horse that has been neglected or abused.

  Serenity Beginnings - After over a year of working to close the Pacific Equestrian Center, Serenity along with help from Animal Control takes in 23 horses and re-homes over 50 others. Read about this breaking news here.

Auburn woman pleads not guilty to horse abuse

By Akiko Fujita Published: Apr 29, 2008 at 6:58 PM PDT Last Updated: Nov 20, 2008 at 7:08 PM PDT    Click HERE to watch KOMO News Video.

KING COUNTY, Wash. -- An Auburn woman pleaded not guilty to four counts of animal cruelty months after county animal control officers and city code investigators removed nearly 50 horses from her property. 

Court papers allege half a dozen horses at Pacific Equestrian Center were infested with lice and suffered from rain rot. But in court, owner Dean Solomon denied any wrongdoing.
"She's in a horse rescue operation and these horses came to them in very poor condition and they were doing what they could to treat them and make them better," said Solomon's attorney Mark Prothero.
Auburn Code Compliance Officer Don Stephens says piles of horse manure lined Solomon's barn when he visited her property in January. At least four dozen horses crowded the 11-acre lot, which contained four times the number of animals allowed by city code.
"I couldn't put it to you in tons or poundage but let's just say there was an awful lot of waste," Stephens said.
Stephens says Solomon insisted she had an agreement with the county to take on more than the code allowed. She removed horses from her property after he and animal control officers pressured her.
Court documents allege Solomon starved and neglected animals in need of medical treatment. One horse had hooves that were extremely overgrown and was foot sore in all four feet. 
A veterinarian euthanized two horses that were "unnecessarily suffering and in considerable pain," documents state.
Veterinarian Charles Emig says the horses were sick before Solomon rescued them. Emig helped her treat the animals and says Solomon took on more than she could handle.
"Some of them are going to fall by the side like war," he said. "But she has done more good than she does harm and she has absolutely not starved them."
Emig insists Solomon nursed at least 30 horses back to health last year and adopted them out. Only one remains at Solomon's property in Auburn, but Emig says she purchased 10 new horses at an auction a few weeks ago and cared for them on a property he refused to identify. 

Nearly two dozen horses are now at Serenity Equine Rescue in Maple Valley. 

Prosecuting attorney Julie Klein requested that a King County judge order the newly acquired horses be removed from Solomon's property as well. His decision is expected later this week
Animal Control was called to Solomon’s property, Pacific Equestrian Center, in Kent, WA in February of 2008. A veterinarian had found six horses who were extremely thin and had lice, court papers said. One horse was already deceased and two additional horses were so ill that they had to be euthanized. Animal control officials said that they received several complaints about mistreatment, the condition of the property, and other problems pertaining to the care and treatment of Solomon’s animalsThe three dead horses were removed from Solomon’s Kent, WA property in February of 2008. Animal Cruelty charges were filed in April of 2008 in King County Superior Court. Solomon was charged with four counts of animal cruelty after King County Animal Control Officers verified that more than half a dozen of her horses had been starving and suffering from severe lice infestations. Court documents allege that Solomon failed to provide her horses with food, water, shelter, sanitation, and medical attention. Solomon’s horses were forced to live in filthy conditions, with many of them standing in mud that completely covered their hooves. While these conditions were horrific, many of Solomon’s horses faced an even worse fate: They repeatedly showed up at feedlots, where an unknown number of them tragically lost their lives in slaughterhouses.Charging papers only sited Solomon for neglecting eight horses, but there were actually as many as 80 horses crowded on Pacific Equestrian Center’s grounds. In November of 2008, Solomon pleaded guilty to Second Degree Animal Cruelty, a misdemeanor. 2nd degree Animal Cruelty was only a misdemeanor in 2008, but as of April 2010 with Pasado’s Safe Haven’s help, it is now a Gross Misdemeanor. Solomon, then 49, faced a suspended sentence in exchange for community service. The terms of the plea agreement stated that Solomon was allowed to keep four horses, but that she must let King County Animal Control see the animals.